Growing up, we are taught to share. Share our toys, share the chores, share our parents attention. When we get to an age where we can earn some money, whether it be allowance for household jobs, or something like a paper route, our parents teach us to be sure to give God his 10%. (Here is a little secret…it is ALL God’s, he just allows us to keep 90%, if only the government would be so generous). Well, as we get even older, let us say, after high school or college, we get a ‘real’ job. This is theoretically speaking of course, since there are so many who don’t have jobs, whether because there are none available in their field of skills or because they just don’t want to work and would rather have someone else support them. Now, saying we have this job, and we give 10% to God (via His church), we also have to give a share to Uncle Sam…he is the uncle we pay to stay away and leave us alone. If you do not pay enough, he will come after more than his fair share. So still, we share.
Let us take the master that gave to his servants talents, to test their abilities. He gave to one servant five talents, to another two talents, and to another one talent. Well, you know the account, the servant with five talents used his abilities and increased his talents by five more. The twp talent servant did likewise and increased his talents by two more, but the one talent servant just buried his talent, keeping it to himself, and when the master returned, the first two servants were given praise for their good work while the one talent servant was punished. (Matthew 25: 14-30). The one talent was then given to the 10 talent servant and the master said, “For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.”
I would like to give a few examples of sharing. In 1 Kings 17, Elijah was sent by God to give a message to Ahab, that there would be a drought in the land. After delivering the message, Elijah was told to “hide by the brook Cherith, that is before Jordan.” At the river, he was able to drink and God had ravens to bring him food for a while. Then the brook dried up, “because there had been no rain in the land.” Elijah was then told to go to Zarephath and dwell there, where God had prepared a widow woman to sustain him. He met the widow woman as she gathered sticks and asked her to give him something to drink. As she was going to get the drink, he asked her to also get him something to eat. “And she said, As the Lord thy God liveth, I have not a cake, but an handful of meal in a barrel, and a little oil in a cruse: and, behold, I am gathering two sticks, that I may go in and dress it for me and my son, that we may eat it, and die.” Well, she did make that cake for Elijah, and because she was willing to share, God made the meal and oil last so that she nor her son had to starve. It was by sharing what she had that she was blessed.
On another occasion, there was a different widow woman and her sons who were fearful of her late husband’s creditors. They were planning to take her sons as slaves for the debt her husband left behind when he died. She cried to Elisha, the man of God, for help. “And Elisha said unto her, What shall I do for thee? tell me, what hast thou in the house? And she said, Thine handmaid hath not any thing in the house, save a pot of oil.” So he told her to go to her neighbors and borrow vessels, and not just a few, but many vessels. She was then told to go into a room with her sons and shut the door and pour out the oil into the vessels, which she did, until there was not another vessel to fill. And still she had oil. “Then she came and told the man of God. And he said, Go, sell the oil, and pay thy debt, and live thou and thy children of the rest.” Again we see how God took the little she had and made it last.
When Jesus fed the multitudes with the fishes and loaves of bread, He could have just as easily spoke and produced food out of the air, as with the manna for the children of Israel and with the raven feeding Elijah, but He did not. He took what they had and made it last until everyone present had been fed. When the children of Israel left Egypt and were fed by the manna, they had to leave all they had known and trust in God. Elijah had to leave town and hide, and trust in God. The widow women also, used what they had left, and trusted in God. On the one hand you have those who had to flee and on the other hand you have those that stayed, but had something, although sparse, to start with. In all cases, the individuals involved had to trust in God completely to take care of their needs. Likewise, we have to trust in God to provide our needs. If we have goods, and share with our brethren, God can increase our goods as he sees fit. If we have nothing and someone shares with us, that is a blessing to us as well as the person sharing their goods, and we should be sure to thank God for his blessings and ask blessings on the sharing party.
Jesus wants us to share and help the less fortunate. That is not to say that we should provide total support for able bodied people who just do not want to work. An old Chinese saying, “Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day, teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime.” In helping others, we may need to teach them new skills so that they can help themselves. The Bible also teaches in Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians 3:10-15, “…that if any would not work, neither should he eat. For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies. Now them that are such we command and exhort by or Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread. But ye, brethren, be not weary in well doing. And if any many obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed. Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.” And also in 1 Timothy 5:8, “But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.”
We need to encourage others to prepare for hard times. Even as our economy is failing daily, some will not hear of making plans for the future, but live only for that day. And while we are not promised tomorrow, and should live every day as if it were our last, we can plan for the future we hope to have if we live and if the Lord is willing. And do not be afraid to help others in genuine need, (Hebrews 13:1-2) “Let brotherly love continue. Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unaware.” And Jesus said in Matthew 25:34-46, “Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto thee, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” We do need to share with the less fortunate that are trying to help themselves and do it willingly. “But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully, Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.” – 2 Corinthians 9:6-7.